If your baby has ever been inconsolable, then you know what it feels like to have your heart break into a million pieces. Parental guilt is real—that feeling that whispers in the back of your mind that you’re messing up and will never get the parenting thing right. Somewhere behind all of the parenting books, “perfect family” Instagram pics, and everyone who seems to know more about parenting than you do, lurks the supermom (or dad) artifice.
This mythical parent persona with perfect hair, a pre-baby body, and the ability to go days without sleeping winks at you from planet Babyland and says, “If you try hard enough, you can be perfect, just like me.”
The problem is that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Even if we could get a master’s degree in parenting, every baby is different. There’s not enough education in the world to prepare you for what babies will do in any given situation. Just when you think you have them figured out, they flip the baby script upside down and read the lines backwards.
According to The Bump, the sources of mom guilt can include:
- postpartum expectations
- working-mom guilt
- expectations of perfection
- losing your patience
- you’re just not that into it
- stereotypical gender roles
This list is evidence that parents grapple with a lot of thoughts about parenting. When we have children, almost everything we do ties into our performance as parents. It’s easy to see how parenting guilt can slip in unannounced.
The supermom cape has holes
Did you know that supermom is in the Oxford dictionary? Its definition reads:
- an exemplary or exceptional mother, especially one who successfully manages a home and brings up children while also having a full-time job.
It’s hard to get to the end of the definition without a good laugh. Amazing parents are born every day; however, even those who feel naturally suited to parenting will likely tell you that “super” is not a term they embrace fondly, unless it’s super absorbent diapers or super strong coffee. When it comes to parenting, the term “super” denotes something beyond human capacity. Is this really a good thing?
Being a parent is hard, and that’s okay
Before a new baby arrives, it’s not uncommon for soon-to-be parents to go into overdrive, trying to prepare for the baby’s arrival. They stock up on parenting books, bookmark every parenting article in their social media feed, and listen to every parenting podcast to prepare for every conceivable outcome.
Is this normal? Sure, it is. Does all of the preparation work? Ehh? Not exactly. How do you know which advice to follow? And how do you know that what you’re learning will work for your baby? And what if you mess up? How will that impact your child?
Sometimes the desire to be a good parent can overshadow the reality that some things have to be learned by messing up from time to time and learning from your mistakes. The good news is that to be an engaging, loving, and kind parent, you don’t have to get everything right.
When we understand that it’s okay not to know everything, it becomes easier to loosen the cape strings of perfection and assess parenting from a new vantage point—one that leans into self-love, awareness, and a supportive community.
What not to expect when you’re expecting
The perfect baby
Babies are just tiny humans with underdeveloped life skills. They come fully packed with a suitcase of personality traits that will blossom like wildfire during their pre-teen years. Remembering this can help you manage expectations when it comes to your little one. There’s no such thing as a perfect baby, so comparing your child to another baby will either give you a false sense of security or cause complete panic. Both are a recipe for disaster. Always remember that embracing the unexpected is a great teacher.
There’s something about a child’s 100% dependence on you that will cause even the strongest of us to question if we actually know how to boil water properly. Baby cries in the grocery store that once flew over our heads can now put us into a state of panic when the cries are coming from our own child.
The good news is that once you’ve spent enough time with your child to understand their cues, you’ll find that parent insecurity is slowly replaced by an innate knowing, which is so much better than untested confidence.
A return to normal
When you become a parent, the idea of normalcy becomes relative. What was once normal is redefined after having kids, but this is a good thing. Life is always changing—some things on bigger scales than others, like having kids. Adaptation is the key to not pining after what used to be and learning to redefine what is.
How to find parenting peace
The parenting journey is unpredictable, and maybe it’s extreme optimism (or sleep deprivation), but somewhere along the way, we can convince ourselves that walking through our days like zombies without asking for help is okay. This is the mindset that can creep up when the world around us tells us that being a supermom is something to strive for when it can do more harm than good. It can lead us to believe that if we read enough books, watch enough YouTube videos, listen to everyone’s advice or learn the newest parenting trick, our entire parenting journey will fall into place. Not true.
Embrace the village
There’s truth to the proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Whether it’s family and friends, other moms, or professionals, the greatest gift new parents can give themselves is to lean on a supportive village of people that they trust. A critical part of selecting the right community is learning how to value your instincts as a parent—even if you’re a new one.
You have the power to create your own village. Night Owl Nanny Care can be a part of that support system. Give us a call or send us an email so we can walk you through the process of how our night nannies can help make your parenting journey a smoother and more balanced experience.